Joe Maddon: ‘Intel I’m Getting Is That David Price Is Staying’
The Tampa Bay Rays are the hottest team in baseball. They’re 11-1 in their last 12 games, including 9-1 since the break, and are now just 4.5 games back in the AL Wild Card standings.
Does this mean that David Price is staying put?
“As of right now, all the intel that I’m getting is that (he’s staying),” Rays manager Joe Maddon said on CBS Sports Radio’s John Feinstein Show. “We’ll see how that all plays out. Of course, you never know how things work out at the very end. The eleventh hour is a very powerful hour, so you have to wait and see how that all plays. But for me personally and for us as a group, of course we’d love to keep David here. He’s a big part of our past and hopefully in the future, too. He’s not only a great pitcher – you’ve seen what he’s done this season – but (he’s also) tremendous in the clubhouse and (a) great teammate. All the kinds of things you want out of your (ace).”
Price is 11-7 with a 3.08 ERA this season – solid numbers, to be sure. In July, however, he’s been otherworldly: 5-0 with a 1.36 ERA.
“I don’t know,” Maddon said. “It’s anybody’s guess. The rumor mills are great, though. That’s what bar rooms need – stuff like that. But I have no idea how this is going to play out.”
The same can be said for Tampa Bay’s season overall, but it’s certainly trending in the right direction. On June 10, the Rays had the worst record in the majors at 24-42 and had just been shut out for the third straight game.
They’ve since gone 29-12.
What the heck happened?
“Well, we just started playing better baseball,” Maddon said. “At the beginning of the year, all the big innings we had been giving up . . . were really kind of devastating. I think that bled into the offense, too – because if you’re an offensive player and you look up on the scoreboard and you’re always coming back form three-, four- and five-run innings, that totally would make a dent in your offensive production. I think that had something to do with it. The defense wasn’t tight. We had some guys hurt. We have other guys pitching and weren’t getting even into the fifth or sixth inning. The bullpen was throwing more innings than any team in the league. So all this stuff. It just happens. If you watched our games, there was a lot of crazy stuff going on that went against us, and you have to believe it’s going to come back to you – if you keep pushing.”
The Rays have done just that – which is why losing Price, if they do, would be so demoralizing.
“Well of course that would be difficult,” Maddon said. “But also, if you read a lot of our players’ comments, I think our players are kind of savvy to what goes on here in the sense that they understand that we have to keep one eye on the present and one eye on the future. So I think there is that part that the guys would understand. However, it would be a difficult moment. There’s no question.”
Price, of course, isn’t the only reason the Rays have made national headlines lately. There’s also their continued rivalry with the Boston Red Sox, which has seen no shortage of beanings, bat flips and post-game sound bytes this season.
For Maddon, who has managed Tampa Bay since 2006, that’s a good thing – within reason.
“Back in the day, we had to fight for our turf and our territory and our reputation,” he said. “Now, I think it’s all going on because (the Red Sox) see us as being an equal and there is a threat – and that’s good. That’s a good thing. I don’t want anybody to get hurt, but I love the rivalry. I love the intensity of the game. I mean, we’re playing (as) two teams that are in last place a couple days ago and it’s like a playoff game every night. I think that’s healthy. It’s healthy for the game.”
“I just don’t like this vigilante justice sometimes,” Maddon continued. “People want to take things into their own hands a little bit.”
Chris Archer, to his credit, did not do that to David Ortiz this past Sunday. Ortiz blasted a three-run, third-inning homer off Archer before emphatically flipping his bat and trotting around the bases.
“The bat flip was a little bit flamboyant, to say the least,” Maddon said. “I’m glad that Archie did not choose to hit Ortiz later in the game. I hope it never happens again. Let’s just hit a home run, put the bat down and run around the bases. As a pitcher, make a better pitch and the guy won’t hit the ball in the seats.”
Boston won the game, 3-2, handing the Rays their only loss since the break. The Red Sox and Rays next play Aug. 29-31 in Tampa Bay.
“At the end of the day, I think the rivalry’s good,” Maddon said. “It’s good for us. It brings out the best in us. I think the Red Sox see as as being an equal, and I think that’s wonderful. I don’t think it’s going to go away any time soon.”